US soldiers amazed by Indian anti-terror training

August 11th, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Vairengte (Mizoram), Aug 11 (IANS) Last week when Captain Greg Adams and Staff Sergeant Cote along with 28 US Special Forces commandos arrived at this hilltop village in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, they were far from thrilled. But after a week at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) here, the 30 US soldiers of the Special Forces or Green Berets were simply stunned.

Upon their arrival at Vairengte, a small tribal hamlet wedged on the border between Mizoram and Assam, they were not amused. “Where on earth have we landed?” they seemed to ask each other.

On Monday, Captain Adams told IANS: “This is the most amazing military education facility anywhere.”

Adams made the remarks as he led his troops to a dangerous slithering operation - coming down an MI-17 helicopter by clinging on to a rope and landing safely.

The school at Vairengte is today considered one of the world’s most prestigious anti-terrorist institutions with troops from several countries getting training there.

The US soldiers are being trained on sub-conventional guerrilla warfare, especially in dealing with urban terrorism. The exercise would end Aug 24.

“The motto of this institute is to fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla,” Brigadier A.K. Ram, commandant of the CIJWS, told IANS.

So far more than 156,000 soldiers have been trained at CIJWS, including about 1,500 foreign soldiers from 26 countries since the school was set up in 1970.

“We have trained soldiers from the US, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries while we are expecting soldiers from China and other parts of the world soon,” the commandant said.

“The troops are taught to live in difficult and hostile terrains, eat and sleep like the guerrilla and strike as silently as the guerrilla,” said Colonel B. Mukherjee, an instructor at the school.

Spurred by the successes in combating militancy to a great extent, New Delhi in 2001 opened the school at Vairengte for soldiers from abroad with three US army officers being the first overseas batch to be trained.

But it was only after the 9/11 that the jungle warfare school at Vairengte began attracting military cadets from across the world.

“The training we are currently being imparted here would go a long way in tackling terror. We have also shared our experiences with our Indian counterparts… the entire exercise is simply great,” Captain Adams said.

In 2003, a group of about 100 elite US commandos completed a three-week anti-insurgency combat training at the institute.

The reputation of the CIJWS lies in the fact that the training module is framed in a highly scientific manner - soldiers receive training in identifying improvised explosive devices (IEDs), jungle survival, counter terrorism, and interrogation techniques.

Soldiers were also trained in jungle reflexive shooting, and a fast roping technique called ’slithering’, used by the Indian Army.

The exercises are aimed at honing special skills for soldiers who are exposed to terrorist attacks.

The training module include among other things lectures, seminars, besides mock operations in the rugged jungles in Mizoram.

“The training module is non-conventional and once a soldier undergoes training here, he can face all deadly situations anywhere in the world,” the commandant said.

“The CIJWS is also framing tactics to hunt down and face terrorists groups carrying weapons of mass destruction.”

And there are plans to upgrade the school into a military college soon.

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